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Micro-XRF study of the troodontid dinosaur Jianianhualong tengi reveals new biological and taphonomical signals

By Jinhua Li, Rui Pei, Fangfang Teng, Hao Qiu, Roald Tagle, Qiqi Yan, Qiang Wang, Xuelei Chu, Xing Xu

Posted 08 Sep 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.09.07.285833

Jianianhualong tengi is a key taxon for understanding the evolution of pennaceous feathers as well as troodontid theropods, and it is known by only the holotype, which was recovered from the Lower Cretaceous Yixian Formation of western Liaoning, China. Here, we carried out a large-area micro-X-Ray fluorescence (micro-XRF) analysis on the holotypic specimen of Jianianhualong tengi via a Brucker M6 Jetstream mobile XRF scanner. The elemental distribution measurements of the specimen show an enrichment of typical bones couponing elements such as S, P and Ca allowing to visualize the fossil structure. Additionally, to this, the bones are enriched in several heavier elements such as Sr, Th, Y and Ce over the surrounding rocks. The enrichment is most likely associated to secondary mineralization and the phosphates from the bones. Interestingly the plumage shape correlates with an enrichment in elements such as Cu, Ni and Ti, consistent with a previous study [[1][1]] on Archaeopteryx using synchrotron imaging. The analysis presented here provide new biological and taphonomic information of this fossil. An in-situ and nondestructive micro-XRF analysis is currently the most ideal way to map the chemistry of fossils, so far this is manly restricted to small samples. Larger samples usually required a synchrotron facility for analysis. Our study demonstrated that laboratory-based large-area micro-XRF scanner can provides a practical tool for the study of large large-sized specimens allowing collect full chemical data for a better understanding of evolutionary and taphonomic processes. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest. [1]: #ref-1

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